It’s difficult to know exactly what to expect when Freddie Starr takes to the stage on the Island next month – simply because even he doesn’t know what will be happening!
But if his performance at Shanklin Theatre is anything like the half-hour interview he gave me, then it is likely to be funny, outrageous, completely over the top and definitely for an adult audience only.
Freddie started off by telling me he thought he was coming to the Island to serve time at Parkhurst, for an offence I could not possibly mention. He then went on to say he had close connections with the Island because his great great grandfather was a Viking who used to row here, and in fact was the first ferry operator. He then went on to explain how he enjoyed audience participation, but best not to say what he threatened if they did not co-operate.
And so it went on, until finally, more than halfway into the chat, Freddie’s mood changed somewhat. The controversial funny man, who has had more ups and downs in his career than the Blackpool Big Dipper, was for once serious as he explained how he felt he had let audiences down over the years, through no fault of his own, but thankfully that has all changed since a life-saving operation.
Freddie suffered a heart attack, and was in intensive care for three months. He underwent a quadruple heart by-pass by one of the world’s leading surgeons in that field, but admits he still caused chaos and mayhem during a difficult recovery, brought on by kidney and lung problems.
He said: “I was very ill, and I had been ill long before that, but didn’t realise what it was. During the previous 10 years I had apparently had three more heart attacks without knowing it, and for about five of those years I had been forced to cancel shows because I just didn’t feel up to it. Then people stopped booking me in case I didn’t turn up, so they didn’t show much compassion.
“I didn’t want to let people or the theatre down, but just felt so ill. One day while I was in hospital my girlfriend was told by doctors I might not make it through the night. But God was good to me; I pulled round and I’m still here. After the op I was on 20 tablets a day, now I’m down to six, so I am well on the mend.”
Freddie added: “I am working better now than I’ve ever done, and it will be a great show. People who come and watch don’t have to be broad-minded, just human, but I don’t want kids there. I’m looking forward to it, and overall I’m feeling a lot better now – apart from my leg. That fell off the other day, so I’ve got a bit of a limp!”
*Freddie Starr appears at Shanklin Theatre On Wednesday, October 19, 2011.